Present Over Perfect is one. Of. Those. Books. Thank you Shauna Niequist!
On a rainy day in Georgia, I pulled this book off the table next to my desk, and re-read it, grateful for its ongoing hold on me. You read her words and they live within your thoughts and heart, inviting you to go deeper into connection with yourself and God, leaving behind the frantic hustle for worthiness.
A Blessed Call To Leaders
Us leaders can take a page or chapter or the whole damn book from this book. Shauna’s take-off-your-shoes-and-stay-awhile style warms my soul and calls me out on my shit. The kind of shit that I know most leaders also struggle with. The kind of shit that goes like this whether we lead a global enterprise or a family of five:
- I am only as good as my last success
- I have to keep going, chin up, eyes on the prize
- I can push myself through the exhaustion … depletion … burnout
- Busy is the best
What kills a soul? Exhaustion, secret keeping, image management. And what brings a soul back from the dead? Honesty, connection, grace.
I know CEOs, for God’s sake, who are learning to breathe and step away from the madness, to calm their thoughts and center their minds. I know entrepreneurs who are learning that resting is productive. Stay-at-home-Moms who realize that being present is more important than being Pinterest-perfect. This is hard learning. Important learning. Thank-you-Shauna-learning.
For Those Times When You Want to Scream
Today was a hard day; I have had harder though, all things in perspective. I had a few big publishers interested in my book until they discovered I did not have (at this point) a big enough platform on social media; my agent got the emails today.
The sting of that was crushing; I have had a love/hate relationship with social media and i wanted to scream:
“Do you all have any idea what I have balanced these last few years while I was writing this book and serving clients and paying the bills and raising a son by myself because my husband has rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s? By myself? I want to cry because you were at first interested in my book – and the concept which our world truly needs – until you realized my followers are not as robust as you want? Do you have any idea what it is like to be the sole provider for a family that is dealing with recovery from addiction and also Alzheimers at the same friggin’ time? That while other people were painting social media strokes, I was dealing with stress that makes strokes.”
I am pissed. I am chunks-of-tears-caught-in-my-throat sad.
So I reached for Shauna’s book. And I hope you do, too, because as you read it during this season of your life you will also need to reach for it during other seasons; it forms roots inside of us.
So if you are a leader in any part of your life, Shauna’s book is like having a do-or-die friend remind you of what is important during the times of rejection and weariness, exhaustion and depletion:
- Resting and finding the rhythms of grace nourish and renew us
- “No” paves the way for the really important “yes”
- The call to purpose and meaning is quiet yet steady
- Being comfortable in your own skin changes everything
- Filling ourselves from within – with God – instead of with outside solutions soothes us
- Standing still instead of chasing hard matters
- Being present is important, truly
- Church and communion are all around us: connect
And so, as I feel this very big, hard, terrible no-good rejection I am clear what I need: a new plan, a renewed energy, a bigger trust in God’s hand in everything. Because as tough as today’s news was, it also brought me back to what is working: basically, my life. My well-lived, well-loved, God-graced life.
As Shauna says…
“How we live matters, and what you choose to own will shape your life, whether you choose to admit it or not. Let’s live lightly, freely, courageously, surrounded only by what brings joy, simplicity, and beauty.”
So, I am going to find some comfort food, my Bible, and sit on my screened porch listening to the rain and reconnect with me. I am going to pray and probably cuss a bit: two of my favorite go-to’s. I will call one of my tribe. I will dip deeply into a restful hour or so. I will practice gratitude for the one precious life i have and the gifts that flow like my son thriving one day at a time with deep, soulful connections and my husband having visitors today even though he will not remember. And then … I will be ready again to connect with and lead others which is good because I have some conference calls with clients this afternoon, and a friend coming for dinner.
Present Over Perfect is like that warm loaf of bread and homemade soup enjoyed around a table: it gives us nourishment for the journey. And if you have ever had a hard day or a hard season, you know that what we need is more presence and less perfect. I don’t trust perfect – but I sure as heck trust raw, real, messy … soul, openness, and connection.